WILKES-BARRE – Josh Samec hit five of six shots in the second half to finish with 21 points and 10 rebounds while leading JB Hoops Reagan to a 73-62 victory over Valley Thunder in an AAU basketball game Tuesday night at Wilkes University.
The game started a pair of doubleheaders, scheduled for consecutive nights, between the two northeastern Pennsylvania programs that are preparing for important weekend tournament appearances on the road.
Samec’s 3-pointer stopped a 10-0 run in which Valley Thunder had used its perimeter defensive quickness to close within, 57-55, with less than six minutes remaining.
“Our guards struggled a little bit today,” JB Hoops coach Larry Reagan said. “Coach (Howie) Walker’s guys are tough. It’s good for us, going into this next weekend because we’ll probably get the same thing from some of the teams we’re going to see down in D.C.”
Valley Thunder is headed to Pittsburgh for the Hoop Group Jam Fest. It will send the same squad out Wednesday to face JB Hoops Callahan, another 17U team from the program that will also be playing along with JB Hoops Reagan and others at the Big Shots DC Spring Live Tournament in Washington.
The doubleheaders were arranged to show off the teams locally and to get them ready for what’s ahead.
JB Hoops Reagan is coming off a weekend in which it played well offensively, averaging more than 70 points per game at the Hoop Group Spring Jam Fest at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster County.
“We came into this looking to really work on our defensive effort and intensity on that end of the floor,” said coach Reagan, whose team won its first two games at Spooky Nook before dropping two straight. “I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting paint touches compared to this past weekend.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get ready for this upcoming weekend in D.C., but it’s looking much better than it did on Friday and Saturday.”
JB Hoops jumped in front early.
Greg Eck, who finished with 16 points, and Jay Bittner hit 3-pointers in the first minute. Eck then set up Jackson Danzig in transition as JB Hoops hit its first three shots for an 8-0 lead. A 7-for-8 start from the floor contributed to an 18-8 lead.
The teams played on even terms from there.
The lead never grew higher than 13 and Valley Thunder rallied to force one tie, 28-28, with 2:52 left in the first half.
Samec, a Hazleton Area junior, helped JB Hoops open the lead from a single point early in the second half when he scored on a spin move inside to start a 10-0 run to a 44-33 advantage. Danzig followed by converting an offensive rebound before Samec hit consecutive 3-pointers from opposite corners.
Danzig chipped in with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
Bittner, who had five assists, and Joe Grula had eight points each.
Collin Cook had all 12 of his points in the second half to lead Valley Thunder. Nick Prociak, who did all of his scoring in the first half, and Draig Ruff added 10 points each.
Eck had six rebounds, joining Samec and Danzig in leading JB Hoops to a 40-24 advantage on the boards.